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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:57 a.m., Thursday, May 30, 2002

Flag Day adds to wave of patriotism

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

With expressions of U.S. patriotism more prevalent than ever, one of the nation's little-noticed anniversaries Flag Day may get a significant boost in popularity.
Mary Phillips of Flags Flying at Ward Warehouse expects her sales to soar for Flag Day and the Fourth of July.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

The June 14 anniversary of the creation of the nation's flag comes sandwiched between two big holidays, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. But as with many things since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Flag Day has taken on greater interest.

"It will be interesting to see what will happen," said Mary Phillips, owner of Flags Flying at Ward Warehouse, where schoolchildren will mark the day with songs.

"It will be a bigger holiday than last year," she said. "And of course, July 4th will be huge."

Phillips has been on the front lines of flag sales ever since 9/11. Although sales peaked around Christmas, she is still selling 100 percent more than she did just before Flag Day last year.

"They don't come in and say Flag Day or Memorial Day but people come in specifically to buy a flag and it is obviously important to them," Phillips said. "After 9/11 people bought any flag they could get and they bought nylon ones and they shredded or faded. Now they are coming in and getting good ones."

This year will mark the 225th birthday of the adoption by the Continental Congress of the Stars and Stripes as the country's official flag pattern.

The nation's founding fathers, however, could never have imagined the kind of displays from bumper stickers to automobile antenna flags that have reshaped the nation's patriotic landscape since the 9/11 attacks. They went up faster than a Patriot missile.

Ken Munechika, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel from 'Aiea, said the public could still use "a friendly reminder" about Flag Day.

"Time has a way of letting you remember less," he said. "There is a lot more patriotism. A lot more reverence for the flag, unlike times in the past. But you notice, it started to dissipate as the flags started to fade or tatter. They were not replaced as fast. I don't see as many in the neighborhoods."

Allen Ono, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, isn't sure what will happen on Flag Day but said the widespread expressions of patriotism are heartwarming.

"It makes you feel good," Ono said. "It says that people are not taking America for granted. People need to show their support. It's a display and a demonstration."

Reach Mike Gordon at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8012.